Sweatshop Union – the Bill Murray EP

sweatshop union - the bill murray ep

It’s not necessarily a bad thing that you generally know exactly what you’re going to get on a Sweatshop Union album, lots of bands follow formulas that work and don’t try to fix what ain’t broken; from lamentations about life and family, to the media and flouride we ingest (metro Vancouver does not flouridate), Sweatshop Union offers a different perspective over spacey hip-hop beats and sometimes thought-provoking lyrics. I don’t always agree with what they’re saying, but I appreciate the effort of trying to get a different viewpoint seen. After the intro, Makeshift Kingdom offers up some raps about our spiritual selves: “carbon based body make a suitable home, my temporary temple, I’m soon to be gone.” It’s the quintessential Sweatshop song, even if the music on the chorus is a bit grating and overbearing. A worse example of Sweatshop is Bring Back the Music, which wastes a great beat on whiney lyrics: “what happened to the music videos? All I see is Jersey Shore and these stupid Diddy shows.” I have no love for reality TV, and I’m sure most Sweatshop fans would agree with their sentiment here, it just really boils down to complaining instead of producing a better song or video – would it be a cheap shot to point out the video for Bill Murray was just rotating camera shots of the band rapping in a diner? Thankfully, Nuclear Family really makes up the difference, this is what it sounds like when Sweatshop nails it. “You might never truly know life until you make it” goes the chorus over a spacey beat, a guitar seems to imply an almost folksy wisdom, a universe of knowledge – this is easily the best song on the album. Bill Murray sure comes close though, full of references to Bill Murray movies and getting stoned, this is more the Van-City sound that won Sweatshop fans outside of BC, great lines like “even cotton-mouthed you can call me Cypress Bill” give this song a healthy bit of replay value. John Lennon is part tribute to Instant Karma, borrowing the chorus “we all shine on, like the moon and the stars and the sun.” A marching drum pairs well with the theme of perseverance. The album ends with Staring at the Walls (Too Late), a piano sounds dramatic for a Sweatshop song, standing out with a more serious tone, it’s not lyrics like “living in an age of pesticides, picket fences and Stepford Wives. Everybody mesmerized, watching the news, petrified” that stand out, it’s the ones like “it’s all part of a grander scheme to keep people distracted from planting seeds.” I don’t mean to sound pompous, these are certainly ideas worth thinking about and warrant consideration, it’s just hard for it to have the impact they’re aiming for on an album that’s torn between socially-conscious lyrics, and a tribute to Bill Murray, especially when the album is named the Bill Murray EP. It just lacks the energy and passion you’d easily find in say, a Wes Anderson movie. I’m being a little generous with my rating because I felt there was a good bit of effort put into this album, and I generally like Sweatshop Union.

2/5

2011 / 23:00

Replay: Not really.

Added to Playlist:
Nuclear Family: High Times
Bill Murray: High Times